Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot Gives 5,000 Residents $500 a Month for One Year to Fight Poverty

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ashlee Rezin Garcia/AP/Shutterstock (11703237c)Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks to reporters after visiting preschool classrooms at Dawes Elementary School in Chicago, .
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/AP/Shutterstock / Ashlee Rezin Garcia/AP/Shutterstock

An innovative new pilot program in Chicago will give 5,000 residents of the city $500 per month for a year as a way of helping them overcome poverty.

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The program, called the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot, represents a $31.5 million commitment from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services. The funding comes as part of a broader effort to tackle poverty and help residents recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the City of Chicago website.

Chicagoans will be selected through an open application period and citywide lottery. The application period began on April 25 and will end at 11:59 p.m. on May 13, 2022.

There will be no limitations placed on how the money can be spent by recipients.

“The Mayor believes that people living with poverty simply do not have enough money to make ends meet,” a press release said. “Cash assistance changes that circumstance and empowers residents to decide how to best meet their financial needs and goals.”

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Nearly one in five Chicagoans (17%) live in poverty, according to the press release. That percentage is even higher in Black and Latino communities. As recently as 2017, per the same release, 44% of Chicagoans could not afford basic needs — and that was three years before the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to widespread job losses, health risks and increased caregiving responsibilities.

Federal economic stimulus checks and child tax credit payments helped low- and middle-income households in Chicago (and elsewhere) weather the financial impact of the pandemic. The City of Chicago claims it has opted for cash assistance because it provides flexibility in terms of meeting certain financial needs, such as making a quick trip to the grocery store or buying school supplies.

The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot aims to meet the following four goals:

  • Provide financial relief to mitigate economic hardships for low-income households hit hard by the pandemic.
  • Improve residents’ well-being by improving their financial stability and health.
  • Transform the city’s Human Services department by improving and promoting Chicago’s capacity to create and deliver impactful and inclusive anti-poverty programs that build on the existing social safety net.
  • Build a field of practice by enabling policymakers and advocates across local, state and federal levels to learn from the pilot program.
Make Your Money Work for You

See: POLL: Do You Think States Should Suspend Their Gas Taxes?
Find: Cutting The Child Tax Credit Has Put 3.7 Million More Children In Poverty Since January

If you are interested in the pilot program, visit the application page to learn more.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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